A comedian once said that women need three things: food, water, and compliments. And Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” I think that’s universal. Everyone appreciates a good compliment.
That’s especially true in marriage. A sincere, timely compliment can be a powerful difference maker for days. Likewise, when you criticize your spouse, it’s effects can be felt for days and even weeks or months. And it’s dangerous to mix compliments and criticism as well.
Over the next few days, try increasing and improving your compliments to your spouse using these five types:
1. People Skills: Compliment how they treat a stranger.
This type of compliment starts with observing your spouse. Note when they show uncommon kindness, generosity, chivalry, courtesy, or patience with someone. Let them know what and why you admire that. Say something like, “I really admire how kind you were to people in that crazy crowded store.”
2. Parenting Skills: Compliment the way they handle your kids.
Your spouse is more aware of their parenting mistakes than their parenting strengths. You can help them see what a difference they make in your kids’ lives. Just yesterday, I texted my wife, “Susan, I just heard you talking with Megan and Emily, and you really coached them well on that issue. Great job!”
3. Get ‘er Done Skills: Compliment their ability at a task.
It’s important to let your spouse know that you admire their abilities, but don’t just compliment an extraordinary skill. Let them know you appreciate all the things they do by saying, “Thanks for cleaning the kitchen…I was tired and I really appreciated you doing that.” Don’t just treat it like it’s just their job…you should still compliment them.
4. Challenges: Compliment their handling of a difficult situation. If you see your spouse navigate a hard situation well, let them know that you noticed. Tell your spouse that you see how they help your marriage and family. [Tweet This] Say something like, “I know the last few days were unexpectedly difficult, but we couldn’t have made it through without your steady hand. Thanks for keeping us calm.”
5. Appearance or Style: Compliment the impression they make on you. If it’s been a long time since you’ve complimented your spouse, unprompted, about their appearance, do it this week. To be most effective, compliment how your spouse improves what they wear, not vice versa. I sometimes say to my wife, “Susan, you make that dress look really good!”